Ann Schweizer, a long-time teacher who served on the District 68 Board of Education from 1999 to 2011, is the 2011 Woodridge Citizen of the Year.
Mayor William F. Murphy announced her award at Thursday night's Town Meeting. Each year, the community is asked to submit nominations for citizen of the year and other awards. A committee determines the winner.
Schweizer moved to Woodridge in 1988 with her family. They chose a home in part because Meadowview Elementary School was "in the backyard."
“I thought that was so cool, and I’ve never regretted that,” she said. “That was the beginning of my interest in the school district.”
Her three children went to school in District 68. Schweizer was elected to the board in 1999. She served as vice president of the board from 2005 to 2007 and as president of the board from 2007 to May 2011.
Schweizer has moved once since then. She now lives two houses down from her original Woodridge home.
She's been a teacher all along with 28 years under her belt. Schweizer teaches eighth grade language arts at LaGrange Highlands Middle School.
She was always interested in the school district and being a school board member was her way of giving back to the community, she said.
“I loved being part of the district, working with the administrators and teachers,” she said. “I felt like, as a teacher, they were good models for me. I loved it, and I miss it.”
She said her biggest accomplishment as a school board member was in hiring Jerry Brendel and Cathy Skinner as superintendent. Brendel retired this year after 10 years in the position; Skinner, who was the former assistant superintendent of personnel, took over July 1.
“In both situations I was part of the group that made that situation,” she said. “And it was a great decision both times.”
Murphy called to tell Schweizer she was named Citizen of the Year last month.
“It just completely took me off guard,” Schweizer said. “I never expected recognition for being on school board. To get recognition for something I loved, that’s a huge perk.”
It has been a humbling experience, she said, as many others who contribute to the community go un-recognized.
“People all over the village put a lot of time and effort into all kinds of projects, parents at school who are constantly there for PTO moms and fundraising,” Schweizer said. “It’s a huge honor to me but I also know that so many people out there in this town who are so giving.”
Schweizer said the most exciting part of winning the award was seeing her children, who drove from downstate Illinois to see her recognized.